House of Leaves has an innumerable amount of characteristics to it that make it a difficult read. Out of all the things that posed the most issues for me in this experimental novel, Johnny’s convoluted diary entries that come out of chronological order gave me the most trouble. They weave in and out of 1998 with one entry from 1999. The writings that I dismiss as some kind of alternate reality are the ones that he admits to making up and the one from August of 1999 where he comes into contact with the band that has read House of Leaves. My process of elimination leaves only the journey to Virginia, the reflections after Lude’s death, the confrontation with Kyrie, and the November entries as reality. Only after struggling to put the entries in order for this blog post have I been able to even slightly wrap my head around Johnny’s diary.
He mentions the introduction in the beginning of the writings that come in Chapter 22 and he proceeds to go into a narration of the birth of a baby boy who had holes in his brain. In the September diary portions, he talks about his Seattle friends, mentions a baby story – Dr. Nowell. Therefore, there is a fictional story that appears in a part of what I considered to be his real life and his imagination. As soon as I began to give credibility to the entries after rereading and analyzing them, I dispelled the thought of their reliability. I realized that a fictional story existed in both the reliable version and the unreliable version. When I thought I had solved a piece of the puzzle, I was quickly humbled after realizing there is no true understanding of this novel. Danileweski writes the novel in a way that there is no correct interpretation. His inaccuracies perfectly match up with other contradictions, rendering logic useless. I believe that the fact that this book cannot truly be grasped is what makes this novel as haunting as it is intriguing. The idea of an unsolvable or unexplainable place corrodes a person’s curiosity, leading to obsession – and this tales shows how destructive a true obsession can be.